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tv   The Kelly File  FOX News  September 10, 2014 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT

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president's very important address. stay with fox news all evening long. we'll have analysis afterwards. i'm bill o'reilly. please always remember that the spin stops here. we're definitely looking out for you. breaking tonight, with america increasingly worried about a growing terror army in the middle east and the president facing the worst poll since taking office, we are moments away from a white house speech with big stakes for our security and country. good evening everyone. welcome to "the kelly file." i'm megyn kelly. we expect to hear from the president in moments outlining his strategy for defeating the terror group isis. the al qaeda offshoot we watched in horror within the past month as two american journalists were beheaded on camera. what followed was an admission by the president that he had no strategy for taking on this threat despite months of warnings. our coverage starts with bret
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baier tonight in washington. what's at stake for this president tonight? >> a lot is at stakes. this could define how he'll spend his final two years in office. turn around this majority he doesn't have a plan, as you mentioned, didn't willing to make tough calls and made the country less safe in the past six years on this the eve of the 9/11 anniversary. he's also going to try to make sure americans know that he now takes isis terrorists seriously. but he's going to lay out this plan. he's also going to have to convince americans that now it's not a fantasy to train and arm the free syrian army to be the ground troops in this fight. and that's a force, as you know, he referred to just 34 days ago as incapable, doctors, farmers and pharmacists. so the president has a big task tonight. >> uh-huh. this is the same group that he refused to arm and now we watch him come out to the podium. we will go live to the state room of the white house now.
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>> my fellow americans, tonight i want to speak to you about what the united states will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as isil. as commander in chief, my highest priority is the security of the american people. over the last several years we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country. we took out osama bin laden and much of al qaeda's leadership in afghanistan and pakistan. we targeted al qaeda's affiliate in yemen. recently eliminated the top commander and its affiliate in somalia. we've done so while bringing more than 140,000 american troops home from iraq and drawing down our forces in afghanistan where our combat mission will end later this year. thanks to our military and counterterrorism professionals, america is safer. still, we continue to face a terrorist threat. we can't erase every trace of
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evil from the world. and small groups of killers have the capacity today great harm. that was the case before 9/11 and that remains true today. and that's why we must remain vigilant as threats emerge. at this moment the greatest threats come from the middle east and north africa where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain. one of those groups is isil, which calls itself the islamic state.ake two things clear. isil is not islamic. no religion condones the killing of innocence. and the vast majority of isil's victims have been muslim. and isil is certainly not a state. it was formerly al qaeda's affiliate in iraq and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and syria's civil war to gain territory on both sides of the iraq/syrian border. it is recognized by no government nor by the people it
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s subd gaits. it has no vision other than to slaughter all who stand in its way. in a region that has known so much bloodshed, these terrorists are unique in their brutality. they execute captured prisoners, they kill children, they enslave, rape and force women into marriage. they threatened a religious minority with genocide. and in acts of barbarism they took the lives of two american journalists, jim foley and steven sotloff. so isil poses a threat to the people of iraq and syria and the broader middle east including american citizens, personnel and facilities. if left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region including to the united states. while we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, isil leaders have
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threatened america and our allies. our intelligence community believes that thousands of foreigners, including europeans and some americans, have joined them in syria and iraq. trained and battle hardened, these fighters could try to return to their home countries and carry out deadly attacks. i know many americans are concerned about these threats. tonight, i want you to know that the united states of america is meeting them with strength and resolve. last month i ordered our military to take targeted action against isil to stop its advances. since then we conducted more than 150 successful air strikes in iraq. these strikes have protected american personnel and facilities, killed isil fighters, destroyed weapons and given space for iraqi and kurdish forces to reclaim key territory. these strikes have also helped save the lives of thousands of
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innocent men, women and children. but this is not our fight alone. american power can make a decisive difference, but we cannot do for iraqis what they must do for themselves. nor can we take the place of arab partners in securing their region. that's why i've insisted that additional u.s. action depended upon iraqis forming an inclusive government which they have now down in recent days. so tonight with a new iraqi government in place and following consultations with allies abroad and congress at home, i can announce that america will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat. our objective is clear, we will degrade and ultimately destroy isil through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy. first, we will conduct a systematic campaign of air strikes against these terrorists. working with the iraqi
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government we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions so that we're hitting isil targets as iraqi forces go on offense. i've made it clear we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country wherever they are. i will not threaten to take action against isil in syria as well as iraq. this is a core principle of my presidency. if you threaten america, you will find no safe haven. second, we will increase our support to forces fighting these terrorists on the ground. in june i deployed several hundred american service members to iraq to assess how we can best support iraqi security forces. now that those teams have completed their work and iraq has formed a government, we will send an additional 475 service members to iraq. as i've said before, these american forces will not have a combat mission. we will not get dragged into another ground war in iraq.
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but they are needed to support iraqi and kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment. we'll also support iraq's efforts to stand up national guard units to help sunni communities secure their own freedom from isil's control. across the border in syria we have ramped up our military assistance to the syrian opposition. tonight, i call on congress again to give us additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters. in the fight against isil we cannot rely on an assad regime that terrorizes its own people, a regime that will never regain the legitimacy it has lost. instead, we must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like isil while pursuing the political solution necessary to solve syria's crisis once and for all. third, we will continue to draw on our substantial
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counterterrorism capabilities to prevent isil attacks. working with our partners we will redouble our efforts to cut off its funding, improve our intelligence, strengthen our defenses, counter its warped ideology and extend the fighters into and out of the middle east. and in two weeks i will chair a meeting of the u.n. security council to further mobilize the international community around this effort. fourth, we will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians who have been displaced by this terrorist organization. this includes sunni and shia muslim who is are at grave risk as well as tens of thousands of christians and other religious minorities. we cannot allow these communities to be driven from their ancient homelands. so this is our strategy. and in each of these four parts of our strategy america will be joined by a broad coalition of partners. already allies are flying planes
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with us over iraq, sending arms and assistance to iraqi security forces and the syrian opposition, sharing intelligence and providing billions of dollars in humanitarian aid. secretary kerry was in iraq today meeting with the new government and supporting their efforts to promote unity. and in the coming days he will travel across the middle east and europe to enlist more partners in this fight especially arab nation who is can help mobilize sunni communities in iraq and syria to drive these terrorists from their lands. this is american leadership at its best. we stand with people who fight for their own freedom and we rally other nations on behalf of our common security and common humanity. my administration is also secured bipartisan support for this approach here at home. i have the authority to address the threat from isil, but i believe we are strongest as a nation when the president and congress work together. so i welcome congressional
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support for this effort in order to show the world that americans are united in confronting this danger. now, it will take time to eradicate a cancer like isil. and any time we take military action there are risks involved. especially to the servicemen and women who carry out these missions. but i want the american people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in iraq and afghanistan. it will not involve american combat troops fighting on foreign soil. this counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady relentless effort to take out isil wherever they exist using our air power and our support for partners' forces on the ground. this strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us while supporting partners on the front lines is one that we have successfully pursued in yemen and somalia for years. and it is consistent with the approach i outlined earlier this
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year, to use force against anyone who threatens america's core interests. mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges to international order. my fellow americans, we live in a time of great change. tomorrow marks 13 years since our country was attacked. next week marks six years since our economy suffered its worst setback since the great depression. yet despite these shocks, through the pain we felt and the grueling work required to bounce back, america is better positioned today to see the future than any other nation on earth. our technology companies and universities are unmatched. our manufacturing and auto industries are thriving. energy independence is closer than it's been in decades. for all the work that remains, our businesses are in the longest, uninterrupted stretch of job creation in our history. despite all the divisions and
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discord within our democracy, i see the grit and determination and common goodness of the american people every single day. and that makes me more confident than ever about our country's future. a broad american leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world. it is america that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists. it is america that has rallied the world against russian aggression and in support of the ukrainian people's right to determine their own destiny. it is america, our scientists, our doctors, our know how that can help contain and cure the outbreak of ebola. it is america that helped remove and destroy syria's declared chemical weapons so that they can't pose a threat to the syrian people or the world again. and it is america that is helping muslim communities around the world not just in the fight against terrorism but in
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the fight for opportunity and tolerance and a more hopeful future. america, our endless blessings bestow an enduring burden. but as americans we welcome our responsibility to lead. from europe to asia, from the far reaches of africa to war-torn capitals in the middle east, we stand for freedom, for justice, for dignity. these are values that have guided our nation since its founding. tonight, i ask for your support in carrying that leadership forward. i do so as a commander in chief who could not be prouder of our men and women in uniform. pilots who bravely fly in the face of danger above the middle east, and service members who support our partners on the ground. when we helped prevent the massacre of civilians trapped on a distant mountain, here's what
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one of them said, we owe our american friends our lives. our children will always remember that there was someone who felt our struggle and made a long journey to protect innocent people. that is the difference we make in the world. and our own safety, our own security depends upon our willingness to do what it takes to defend this nation and uphold the values that we stand for. timeless ideals that will endure long after those who offer only hate and destruction have been ban bang wished from the earth. may god bless our troops. and may god bless the united states of america. >> the commander in chief, president barack obama addressing the nation tonight saying the mission now will be to degrade and ultimately
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destroy isis. saying that the united states will lead a broad coalition in pursuing action against this group including air strikes by the u.s. in syria and iraq, the mission in iraq as it stands right now will be expanded and we will begin air strikes in syria. but underscoring there will be no american combat troops on the ground stressing the difference here in the president's view between what we did in iraq and afghanistan and saying that he does have the authority to take this action but will push congress to support it. underscoring that american leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world in saying we welcome our responsibility to lead. joining me now from the north lawn tonight, chief white house correspondent ed henry. ed. >> reporter: good to see you, megyn. what's fascinating in the run-up to this behind the scenes aides are telling me the president only decided to take this tougher approach in the last couple of days as he had intensive meetings with his staff, his national security
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team. and as you see him talk for just about 15 minutes on the state floor of the white house, just down the hall from where he announced the osama bin laden takedown several years ago, this was one big mulligan, a do-over, a president on defense day after day after saying no strategy saying we can turn this into a manageable problem. his aides tell me they knew they had to go on offense that's why they talked about expanding air strikes in iraq and syria. number two, he unveiled a core principle of his presidency, if you threaten america you will find no safe haven. again, a do-over from what he said just in the last couple of months when he said the principle to his foreign policy was don't do stupid stuff. now this threat has popped up and he's saying something quite different. also, a big shift in policy in terms of the president now saying he wants to ramp up support to the syrian opposition. it's something he resistedmegyn.
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not only was the president on the phone with king abdullah of saudi arabia this morning who has been begging the president to join the effort to arm the syrian rebels for three years, but also the president of the united states calling individual members of congress saying pass legislation to give me this power. why is that significant? a, the president wants to use the syrian opposition as the ground troops instead of u.s. ground troops to support u.s. air strikes over syria. and number two, just a couple weeks ago the president dismissed the syrian rebels. said they were doctors, dentists, pharmacists. and it was a fantasy to think they would be effective. now he needs them, megyn. >> that was august 8th he said that. ed henry, thank you. joining me now with more, bret baier is back with us. what a stark reversal we heard from president obama tonight, bret. >> yeah, megyn. the president highlighting this four-part strategy with which you mention this broad coalition, air strikes, training and arming iraqi and syrian fighters, cutting off funding
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and humanitarian assistance to those in need. couple of things, worth noting the coalition countries as of today stood at the number nine. just in contrast president bush had 37 countries before going into iraq committed some 26,000 troops. now, that's not to say more countries won't sign on. but this broad coalition the question is how broad it will be. ed pointed out the line that caught my ear, core principle of my presidency. if you threaten america you will find no safe haven. that isn't exactly what he said at the national defense university. much different tone. and the other line that really struck me, megyn, was this one. this strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us while supporting partners on the front lines is one that we have successfully pursued in yemen and somalia for years. there are many, many experts who say yemen and somalia are not successes. in fact, yemen may fall apart.
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there's a bomb maker who is very active there. and while the u.s. has just taken out a leader in somalia, it is by far not a safe place. really interesting speech in the dichotomy to what he said before. >> sure is. bret, thank you. want to bring in our panel. bret hume, dana, former white house press secretary to president george w. bush. kirsten powers a fox news political analyst and usa today columnist. and general jack keane the chairman of the institute for the study of war. he previously served as vice chief of staff of the u.s. army and is a fox news military analyst. we begin tonight with brit. brit, your thoughts. >> well, megyn, nothing that we heard tonight was really beyond what we expected. i was eager to describe him the threat because there's a certain logic to these things. if the threat is sufficiently great to american interests and to america itself, then it seems one would do whatever it takes to eliminate the threat. he didn't quite go that far.
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he said he was determined to destroy isis, but you heard him at the end when he was talking about what we do in these sipgss. he said we do what it takes. he didn't say we do whatever it takes. of course he couldn't. because this campaign he's describing with u.s. air power, supporting action on the ground by forces that he has belittled in the past or in the case of the iraqi military have performed poorly in the past, doesn't work. where does that leave us? this raises again, the question of why the president insists on announcing ahead of time what he will and will not do in some instances. it may be that in the end in order to finish this job american ground forces would be needed. will he commit them? well, of course he says not. so there is a there is what i would call a certain uncertainty in all of this in terms of the sound of the trumpet that he is blowing in order to try to rally forces behind him. we can all hope and pray this works, but one can understand why there might be doubts. >> let's talk about what you said last night on the program, brit, before we get to the rest
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of the panel. you suggested this would be an admission of failure of his own foreign policy if he came out and called for the return of troops to iraq and syria now. >> exactly. as ed and bret just said, think of all the ways in which this is a turnabout. remember what happened here. there's a sequence of events. he inherited an iraq that had been in pretty bad shape but by the time he got it was in pretty good shape. he and his administration claimed it as a victory of his success. that of course was the result of a surge of troops that he himself opposed. but never mind he said it was a success. he said iraq was a stable and safe place. the american troops pulled out, agreement was never reached and the whole thing fell apart. and it left the opportunity in iraq and its instability and division for the arrival of isis and for isis to move as freely as it has up until now inside iraq committing these hideous atrocities. what turned this president around was not even recognition
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of that. it was a couple of videos. this president has quite a history of videos with videos in the middle east. in this case it was those videos that woke up american public opinion. american public opinion changed and the president followed. this is what you call leading from behind. in this case he was leading from behind american public opinion reversing himself and reversing course on a number of ways and going back of course without ever acknowledging it on things that he had claimed to be true there. >> there it is. let me get to kirsten powers on that. the beheadings happened. the first beheading of jim foley happened. and the president said, well, the world's always been messy and we're going to try to manage isis. and people said what? what? so what changed? that's what people are asking? what changed between the world has always been messy to we can manage isis to today? over the past three days we have seen devastating polls for this president. i mean devastating. the worst of his presidency by far. is that what changed? >> i think that's definitely part of it. i think this president has a history of being slow to coming
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around on things. this is not the first time he has done this. this speech that he gave is a speech he could have given a month ago and should have given a month ago. you know, he finally came out and is very clear about the threat, we're going to eradicate them, they're a cancer, speaks in the tones that it requires. and outlines to the american people what his plan is. now, i think we can get into discussion whether that's a good plan or not or whether the plan makes sense, but he did actually say here's what i'm going to do. you don't have to worry. you are safe. i'm on top of this. explained to the american people what the threat was. so, you know, i can't get in his head and know what motivated him, but i'm sure the polls are weighing heavy on the white house. >> just to give the viewers a sense of them, dana, we've got 57% of the american people according to the latest fox poll think he's weak and indecisive. 57% of the people believe the united states is less respected under president obama. 76% said the u.s. should be doing more to stop isis. 54% said they do not believe that president obama is willing
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to do what it takes to stop them. is this about politics? can we be that cynical? >> i would like to say, no, of course we can't be that cynical. but time and again that's what's proven. so listen ed henry just told us it was only in the last couple of days that the president has come to this realization. at the white house one of the things you get ahead of time is you're constantly doing your own polling. they knew these polls were coming out. >> it wasn't just fox. abc, "the wall street journal," all types of numbers. >> cnn, all of the polls said this. they knew this was coming. i don't know if in the last couple of days that happened. the other thing that might be driving them a little bit is he was just with all of his allies in europe. he might have felt some pressure from them as well. but you have here the american public pushing the president into doing something because remarkably in the six years of the presidency they are telling him we no longer feel safe. we do not feel safer today than we did six years ago. >> the polls say that exactly.
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>> so he has to come out and give a primetime address to show the people that i'm on top of it. on the line where he says the core principle of my presidency, if you threaten america you will find no safe haven. i like that line. i have heard it before. this is president george w. bush's line after 9/11. and he said, i might have the quote exactly right, you are either with us or you're against us. this is not just a principle that should be for president obama. it's an american principle. and i think that the american people were waiting for this moment like, okay, we're telling you what we want. i know if the american public decides in three months they don't want this anymore, is he going to give a primetime address to say, okay, now the campaign's suspended? i hope that that is not true. i thought the speech was well structured. i thought it had a couple of good lines. the president seemed relaxed, rested, strong. i like that about it. but i can understand why people are skeptical and cynical. >> general keane, the generals were warning the president that if we pulled out of iraq, all
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forces, didn't negotiate a status of forces agreement to leave behind troops to protect the gains our troops had made, this was going to happen. that we'd be leaving behind a vacuum that would be exploited by the terrorists and they would ined exploit it much to our detriment. your thoughts on where we are tonight with respect to the commander in chief and his policies and what now this means whether we can get this done by air strikes alone with cooperation with other troops on the ground? >> well, look, it was always stated. we know the president is cautious and deliberate to a fault. we also know based on decisions he's made sometimes those decisions are not decisive in getting results. he has an unequivocal goal to destroy isis. good checkmark. he's going to target their finances, he's going to target their ideology which is something we need to do and we need help in doing that. and third, he's getting after syria and iraq where isis is located. i would hope, now this comes to
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decisive decisions, will he a comprehensive air campaign simultaneously and put maximum pressure on the enemy to do what? one, to take their freedom of movement away from them and, two, take their initiative. that's what simultaneously maximum pressure would do. that's unclear whether that is in this plan or not. the ground campaign is the most controversial and the most problematic. because that is what is going to defeat isis in the end. in the ground campaign we are totally dependent on surrogate forces. we're depending on iraqi army, peshmerga and sunni tribes. whether they can do this or not, nobody knows that answer. >> let me pause you there. this is what the president was asked about on august 8th in the "new york times" about arming the syrian opposition and whether that's a good idea in part to get this done. we're about to do it. and this is what the president said on august 8th.
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watch. >> it's always been a fantasy this idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth. >> how is it not a fantasy now? >> well, there's no explanation for that. two years ago the national security team as we all know recommended arming the free syrian army and equipping them and training them as well. and he rejected that recommendation from clinton and petraeus. that's inexplicable to me. frankly, it's been published, we've been arming them right now with missiles. media sources say there's a clandestine operation we've been doing and training them for well over a year. these are the very people he just identified as bankers, farmers and doctors. most are actually former military quite frankly and only forces had success against isis in syria. but the ground campaign is really the issue. and most of that lies in iraq.
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what we need to do there, we are going to depend certainly on those forces i just laid out. it would be wonderful if we could get some of the coalition to pitch in here and strengthen that. probably unlikely. his leadership in that direction would certainly make a difference. but what we need to do is the air campaign has to support that. to make that work we need air ground controllers with those units on the ground. that lies up the risk ground troops to be sure. but it's the only way that air campaign in support of a counteroffensive when we close on the enemy will be actually effective. and i truly believe we need to put special operation forces in there as well. >> you think he's going to do that? >> i don't know. i think his tendency would be not to do it, but i think as this begins to unfold, i think what we have to be prepared for is other things are going to be added to this. >> brit, let me ask you because there's been a lot of questioning about whether this president's heart is going to be in this mission. he was accused of it not being
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in the surge in afghanistan and risking the gains that we've made there as well. and the question tonight is whether we're now -- he doesn't believe in this. if this is poll-driven, if he's just doing it because he feels the public really needs him to do it, where is that going to lead us? >> well, here's some things to watch for, megyn. watch in the weeks ahead as this unfolds and begins to be put into place how often he talks about it. you may recall that in afghanistan after he surged the troops in there he fell silent about it basically for the longest time. of course he'd already announced when they were leaving, our troops. see what he says about it. see if having made an effort tonight to build some public support for this and the speech that was clearly crafted to touch all the right chords with the public. see if he follows it up. see if he continues to try to build on that and sustain it or whether he just sort of allows this to unfold. you know, if he describes this
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like being the campaign in somalia and the campaign in yemen, they make occasional headlines when somebody gets bombed or there's a drone strike, otherwise you don't hear that much about it. see what happens. see if he follows up. of course the question general keane was touching on that i mentioned earlier as well is what happens when it gets tough and the ground forces we're trying to train up and to support and so forth are having trouble with these isis butchers? what then? that will be something to keep an eye on too. in other words, is he going to see this thing through no matter what? or is he simply going to start this limited campaign with limited means and see how far it goes and let it go if it doesn't? >> kirsten, he came into office saying i was elected to end wars, not start them. that he wanted to get us out of iraq because that's what the american people wanted. and yet he was warned by generals, don't give away the gains. we know you want to get out.
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you can't get out too precipitously or it's going to wind up in us having to go back there. question is whether we now have to go bomb syria and engage in this battle with this terror army isis because of the president's own foreign policy. that his attempt to get us out of this thing prematurely or in the wrong way lead to us having to go back in a way that may be even more dangerous. >> well, first the obama administration would say we couldn't stay because we couldn't get a status of forces agreement. that would be the first thing they would say. the thing i would say is even if isis wasn't in iraq, they'd be in syria. so they were in syria, they would still be there, they would still have to be dealt with. the issue is whether or not they're going to get a safe haven and have a place that they have under their complete control. i think there are a lot of questions as to what has changed about the syrian rebels. because i actually think the president was correctly cautious about them. >> on august 8th? >> yes. well, i don't know if i would have said what he said about the
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pharmacist, but the point is there's been a lot of questions about who they are, whether they have the capability. let's remember we used to be talking about them fighting assad, which makes this more complicated because we now have two opposing people -- we don't like either of them. >> right. been saying let them fight it out. we don't like either side. let them kill each other and stay out of it. >> hurt isis, you help assad and vice versa. >> nancy pelosi was asked what happened because don't arm the rebels, that would be bad. it was a fantasy to think they could handle this and now it's full speed ahead and let's arm them and here's what we're going to do. here's what she said. >> i think the threat of isis has changed some of the attitudes of members before were concerned about our training and assistance falling into the wrong hands. but weighing the equity of fighting isis it's something we have to do. and we have to do it soon. >> it doesn't make any sense. either they have the capacity to
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fight. like i said, again, they were supposed to be fighting assad. that's why we were arming them. we weren't arming them to fight isis. so either they have the capacity to do that or they don't. and there does need to be an explanation of what has changed because this is very important. we don't want to be putting arms in the hands of people who can't handle it. and if isis is there and suddenly isis has our weapons because they overpower them like they did in iraq. >> driving around in american tanks. >> right. >> i want to ask you about this, dana, because with respect to whether the president's foreign policy placed us in this situation. it was president bush who placed us in iraq and americans have very strong feelings about whether that was worth it. but it happened. and it ended. and it needed to end right. and there's been a lot of criticism of our sitting president about whether it was ended correctly and whether we've been placed in more danger. the president you work for, president bush, said this in 2007 when he was trying to -- he was justifying the surge of troops in iraq when the american public was very much against
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that war and he predicted what would happen if we got out too soon. by the way, we ran this on our show earlier last week and it got circulated so much it broke an all-time record for fox news, not just "the kelly file." more than 38 million people have now seen the clip you're about to see. watch. >> i know some in washington would like us to start leaving iraq now. begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we are ready would be dangerous for iraq, for the region and for the united states. surrendering the future of iraq to al qaeda. it'd mean that we'd be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. it would mean we allow the terrorist to establish a safe haven in iraq to replace the one they lost in afghanistan. it would mean increasing the probability that american troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.
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>> so is this, dana, as "the wall street journal" editorial board said this morning -- that the liberal critique of the bush administration's approach to islamic terrorism was wrong. >> well, i don't think you're ever going to get a -- admission from the obama team that george w. bush was right. president bush didn't have a crystal ball. what he had was advisors and he listened to them and he looked at the president's daily brief every day, in person briefing six days a week, no matter what. doesn't matter, saturday, sunday, if he needed a briefing he got it because he was sober minded about it, very clear eyed about it. let's think about the difference -- we just talked about earlier, what drove the president to give this speech. we are all assuming it had to do with public opinion, pressure from congress and the president's own internal polling thinking i've got to stop the bleeding here. not necessarily the principle of our ideals and our interests when it comes to counterterrorism. >> uh-huh. >> when the president made that
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announcement, he was getting ready to ask the generals about a plan to do the surge. he had to convince everybody in his administration, including secretary of state -- secretary of defense. everybody needed convinced. every single poll told us what the president was about to do when he announced in january 2008 was the most unpopular thing he could have possibly done. and turns out it was the right thing. leadership is not about necessarily just responding to what the public wants but taking that into consideration as well as all the things that you learn from your advisors and your own gut instincts and talking to your allies. that's very important as well. and then doing the right thing. even if it's really hard. and it took about eight months from when the surge was announced to when it started having major effects. once it did in about july -- a year from then, july 2008, august 2008, it really did start to make a big difference. and the cards that president obama were dealt not ideal. but they were ones that certainly a better hand than he
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would have been given -- >> joe biden saying iraq could be one of the great successes of the obama administration. general keane, let me ask you. i want you to comment on president bush and what he said there. but i also want to ask you if there is a belief by the troops that this commander in chief today is poll-driven and not mission-driven, how do they go and risk their lives for that? >> i don't think they question the motivation. what they do question is the decisions that are made and those decisions that affect them. the first one when he escalated the war in afghanistan, generals mccrystal and petraeus recommended the minimum force to accomplish the mission was 40,000, he gave them 20% less, 30,000, which handcuffed us from the beginning. we tried to explain to the administration if you don't give thce required to finish the mission, you protract the war and drive up the
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casualties. that affects troops on the ground. then he pulled those troops out in our judgment prematurely by announcing a withdrawal date. general petraeus went back to him after we were prosecuting the escalation of the surge in afghanistan and asked him to keep those forces there longer. he said no. he'd brought them out. that drives the risk of troops on the ground left there without those forces with the same mission to accomplish. those are some of the concerns that impact the troops. i don't think they get into the politics of it. what his motivation is. the decisions he makes that truly affect what they're doing. getting back to president bush here. that speech he made was july 2007. and it was an exercise in leadership because we began the surge in january/february in 2007. and we were six, seven months into it with no positive results in it. in two months we get the first positive results. but in july 2007 he had people within his own administration,
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within his own white house, who were wavering and leaking to the media that we better pull the surge out, this is not going to work. so he always wanted to win. he had a fail strategy for three years because he was too deferential to the generals executing that strategy who were failing then quite frankly. he changed that strategy. and even when people in his own administration did not have the stick-to-it to stay to it, he had the right generals in place who know what they're doing with this kind of war. he took to that podium and he wanted to make everybody understand that we're going to stay here, we're going to finish this thing, we're going to get it right and that is leadership. >> brit, this is not about rehabilitating george bush or dick cheney or the administration, this is a much bigger debate about what is the best course to protect america. and there's been a robust debate about that among the left and right and beyond. it doesn't clearly fall along partisan lines in this country. and the debate has been in broad
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brush terms whether we need to go fight the terrorists where they are and stop them wherever they are, or whether we can be a little bit more noninterventionalist and pull back from the world stage as president obama has done. dick cheney, who obviously is in the former camp, made remarks today and was very critical, as you might imagine, of barack obama speaking to how this just undercuts his world view. hopefully we have the sound bite. this is the first one. let's play it. >> he has demonstrated his own distrust for american power as a force for good in the world. five years ago this month he put it this way to the united nations, "no world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed." this one sample from a whole election of such sayings it seemed to regard american influence as a problem to be solved in the world rather than
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a solution to be offered. >> your thoughts. >> well, megyn, that's a correct analysis. and i say it not for the purpose of agreeing with dick cheney, but look at the results of what happened. look, if we go back 50 years and more and look at these situations when america has involved itself in these overseas adventures, when we lead, put our forces on the line and pledge to do whatever it takes, good things tend to happen. when we don't, they don't. and there's a considerable history of that in a multitude of places, big wars and smaller wars. think of the first gulf war when saddam hussein had invaded little kuwait. not particularly attractive little oil rich country run by a monarchy. do you think the american people on the night of that invasion thought it would be a good idea to send american forces to fight
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and die in the desert to protect kuwait or get it back from saddam hussein? of course they didn't. it required leadership from the president of the united states to not only bring about the mission and see it through but also to bring public opinion with him. presidents can do that. president bush the first did it by the actions that he took and the succinct way he described them. and before criticism had time to catch up to him he'd moved onto something else. and by the time the campaign was waged, the public was fully behind it, it was a big success and prompt success because adequate forces were provided and saddam hussein's army was driven from kuwait and a great american military success. that is how those things tend to come about. when you blow an uncertain trumpet and commit to doing less than you could and suggest that others should do the fighting for you, look, that might be fair. and it would be a better world if more of these countries were willing to step up. but that's not the world we face. that's not the world the first president bush faced or the
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second. and this president even now is trying to kind of play let's you and him fight with forces that he belittled, as you pointed out only weeks ago, to do the fighting for him in syria. maybe it will work. i hope it will. air power can do a lot more than it used to be able to. but it leaves you worried. >> a lot to think about. panel, thank you all. well, one of the moments getting the most attention tonight, president obama calling isis a terrorist group and talking about its connection to islam. listen. >> now, let's make two things clear. isil is not islamic. no religion condones the killing of innocents. and the vast majority of isil's victims have been muslim. and isil is certainly not a state. >> joining us now with reaction, republican senator of texas ted cruz. senator, good to see you tonight. your thoughts on that comment on the president's remarks tonight. >> well, i thought the remarks tonight continued the president's approach to this
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crisis, which is they were fundamentally unserious. if you look at the president's remarks tonight they were devoted to the defense of the failed obama/clinton policy, the policy that featured the united states leading from behind as he put it and has led to most of the world being on fire. he then sought to diminish the threat of isis to suggest that they're primarily a regional threat. and what we didn't see tonight was a commander in chief focused on u.s. national security interests who stood up and said there are radical islamic terrorist who is have declared war on the united states who are murdering christians, who have murdered two american journalists and who have promised to take jihad to america. and we will respond with overwhelming air force to take them out. instead he suggested targeted attacks and focuses frankly on political issues that are
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peripheral from the central question of how we protect america from those who would take jihad to our nation. >> but what more would you have him do? speak to a greater air power, to more air strikes -- he didn't outline the number of air strikes we're going to unleash, the timing, et cetera. that remains to be seen in the days and weeks ahead. >> right. >> but does the american public have the appetite for combat boots on the ground in syria? >> well, he suggested that his approach was going to be similar to yemen and somalia. that does not prompt confidence because in yemen and somalia our approach has been altogether ineffective. and both are hotbeds of terrorism. our approach has not worked in yemen and somalia. and so that example -- the obama/clinton foreign policy has been characterized by photo op foreign policy, by focusing on a press release. and so to date there have been some air attacks, there's been a missile here or bomb there.
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nation. toipt ask you why you keep calling it the obama/clinton policy. i assume you're referring to hillary clinton. but in her defense, senator, she along with our then-defense secretary leon panetta and dempsey were pushing obama to arm the syrian rebels years ago and the president declined to do it. she wrote about it in her book saying i pushed as hard as i could but in the end as harry truman said, the buck stopped
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with the president. there was only so much i could do. >> the reason i call it the obama/clinton foreign policy is because they are intertwieped. she was his secretary of state. she was charged with implementing the strategy of "leading from behind," which in effect featured the united states withdrawing from leadership in the world and created a vacuum into which these players have stepped. you know, the idea of our supporting the rebels in syria, among those rebels was isis. i mean, one of the incoherent aspect of the president's speech tonight was when he suggested that we should be -- that the answer here is to arm rebels in syria now. look, isis is fighting against assad. the rebels in syria are fighting against assad. and for the past over a year the president has suggested no sensible way to distinguish between radical islamic terrorists like isis, like al nuestra fighting in syria and the other so-called moderates. it doesn't make sense. and, megyn, it's reminiscent of
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another aspect of his speech where he said that our acting against isis effectively is dependent upon political reconciliation in iraq. listen, the sunnis and shiites have been engaged in a religious sectarian war since 632 a.d. >> let me interrupt you so we can set the stage for the viewers. this appears to be the white house's justification for the perceived delay in getting at this. that the president has been thoughtful, deliberative and what he didn't want to do was make a move militarily before the iraqi government was sure enough, the leadership replaced and the government in place so they could support whatever gains we make instead of having somebody like maliki over there who is largely responsible for the deterioration we've seen in the past few years. >> listen, i agree that maliki was an ineffective leader. he was a leader that systematically repressed his people. and some of that he did because america receded from leadership and left him alone to do that.
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it was because president obama squandered the gains that so many men and women in the military bled and died to accomplish. but at the end of the day repeatedly president obama and hillary clinton and john kerry focus on peripheral political goals such as can we get the sunnis and shiites to come together and reconcile since the death of mohamed in 632 a.d. they have been battling. >> it's a tough charge. let me ask you this because the president did make a reference to congress tonight saying he didn't need your approval to do this but we're stronger if he has it. a few years ago, a senator from new jersey tried to push through a bill that would arm the syrian opposition. harry reid did not allow that to come to the floor for a vote. the question tonight, will congress unite behind the new plan and do you think they need to? >> well, i think the president should come to congress and ask for authorization. you want a demonstration of
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presidenti presidential hubris, look, i have the -- my copy of the constitution says congress has the authority to declare war. the president has inherent authority as commander in chief to respond to an exgent threat. president obama proposed a multi-year military campaign. and he proposed ignoring congress other than he would dane to accept congressional approval if congress gave it. part of the reason for seeking congressional approval is it forces the president to go in front of congress and the american people and articulate a clear military objective that furthers u.s. national security interests. the president has failed to do so. and it appears he still doesn't intend to do so. >> senator ted cruz, thanks for being here, sir. >> thank you, megyn. across the country we are getting a flood of reaction from pundits, from political readers, from average americans.
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and chris stirewalt, our digital politics editor has been tracking all of that tonight in washington. chris, your thoughts. >> i've always been tracking what lawmakers on the hill, the people the president want to do this stuff, are saying about the speech. and they didn't get what they needed. remember, the president doesn't have democrats on this. democratic support is very weak. and we saw in the response tonight -- >> nancy pelosi was saying, oh, well, that stuff we said never mind. >> well, it's complicated. we'll find out what's in the appropriation after we pass it. but what happened online essentially, what happened on air, msnbc and other places was the president got taken apart. they don't like it because what people often forget is the president's own party isn't with him on this. he is reliant on republicans, and you just talked to senator cruz, to get this done. and what the president didn't do tonight was help out the republican leaders in congress to try to get something through because basically what he said
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was i'm going to do it whether you authorize it or not, but i'm telling you to authorize it so it looks better and you're politically culpable. that's not an attractive selling point. if you look at how the response goes, the president could have huge response right now for massive overwhelming air power deployed against isis. but he's going to have an awful hard time getting ted cruz and other republicans in congress start authorizing money to start dumping weapons back into syria. that's a tough call. and that's what he set himself up for is a huge fight. >> the president has suggested that now, now we have vetted the syrian opposition. >> vetted sfwl now they're vetted. a few years ago it was more clear at least who was out there and who we would be helping. today it's less clear but he wants us to believe we vetted them. who in congress would take the political risk of supporting him. if there is a political risk, should they grow a backbone and tell the american people if they're behind this or not? >> the reality is with libya, yemen, somalia, all of the
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things, the misadventures of this administration, there is very little support in either party in congress for trusting them that this one is actually going to be okay because he doesn't have any successes that he can point to to say we know how to get things done. that's going to make it hard with democrats, but it also leaves the republican leaders on whom the president relies and depends to carry his water for him. he didn't help them out. and that was really from inside the beltway perspective. the biggest thing he needed to do was help the republicans who are trying to keep his skin in tact. >> chris stirewalt, thank you, sir. >> you bet. >> what do you think of the president's strategy for combatting isis? we're taking your thoughts, follow me on twitter. defiance is in our bones. defiance never grows old. citracal maximum. easily absorbed calcium plus d. beauty is bone deep.
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while we have been listening to the president's remarks on this terror threat and the reaction to his strategy, this scene appeared in lower manhattan. two beams of light rising up from the footprint of the former trade towers 13 years after the worst terror attack in american history. look at that. we went to war in afghanistan after that attack. not long after this we started a war in iraq. nearly 7,000 american troops have sacrificed their lives in those battles. $1.5 trillion spent. we have been at war a long time. and as the events of the last year and the last hour have made clear america is still at war. we are taking your thoughts on
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the president's speech tonight let me know what you think. thanks for being with us tonight. i'm megyn kelly and this is "the kelly file." welcome to "hannity." president obama addressed the american people from the white house and announced what he called a "counterterrorism campaign against isis in iraq and syria" saying to our enemy ifs you threaten america you will know no safe haven. ed henry. >> good evening. it was sort of like a do-over. a chance for the president who has said again and again he's a reluctant warrior, didn't want to start wars, didn't want to expand u.s. military action. making the case for why he is now getting tough on isis. remember, he had been on defense for days, for weeks, first with the no strategy, then, look, we can turn this into a